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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

47 out of 49 people found this review helpful.

A Review of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

Albert Ellis once said, "The art of love.is largely persistence" and in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by critically acclaimed Maya Angelou, persistence is exactly what young Maya intends to keep strong. The completely autobiographical memoir lures the reader in with i...
Albert Ellis once said, "The art of love.is largely persistence" and in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by critically acclaimed Maya Angelou, persistence is exactly what young Maya intends to keep strong. The completely autobiographical memoir lures the reader in with its depiction of the lives of blacks in the Deep South during the Depression. Within the heart of rural Stamps, Arkansas little Maya and her brother Bailey are prisoners of the tight knit community and all that it brings. Along with their sacrilegious Grandmother, who is constantly in a fit in regards to any lack of obedience, Maya struggles to find her place. On the surface, she plays a character who genuinely enjoys living among her interesting quartet of a family, her Grandmother, her physically disabled Uncle Willie, and her true joy in life, Bailey are all she has in the world until her estranged father arrives to take Maya and Bailey to live with "Mother Dearest." The life of the big city entrances Maya and her imagination. While living with her mother, Maya receives an education, and meets all sorts of different people, one of those people being Mr. Freeman, Maya's mother's boyfriend. When Mr. Freeman takes advantage of eight year old Maya, it becomes clear that the children must be sent back home to their little town of Stamps.
For the rest of Maya's time in Stamps, she encounters all sorts of different types of people; people who will make a great impact in due time, and those who simply play a role in every day fun. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings portrays a great tale of a young girl's battle to suppress the boredom of country life and strive for a greater meaning to her existence while also dealing with the inevitable battles of growing up.
Maya Angelou's writing is flawless and each phrase is master crafted to perfection as she explores the truth of her childhood. "Looking through the years, I marvel that Saturday was my favorite day in the week. What pleasures could have been squeezed between the fanfolds of unending tasks? Children's talent to endure stems from their ignorance of alternatives." (113) The beauty of her words flow together in a magnificent mosaic of phrases and each step in this eloquent autobiography leaves a lingering sense of compassion in the reader's heart. The heart wrenching moments, though distressing, are overshadowed by the little joys Maya always seems to find. The way she confronts the temptations and urges throughout her teenage years are exposed in great detail as she takes little steps to achieve what she considers the "normality" of being a teenage girl.
I truly enjoyed this radiant and joyful story with its realistic balance of pain and pleasure. The reader will be forever mindful of this little girl's journey into adulthood, the quest for love, and the long standing clash with society.

posted by Cassidy54 on February 22, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

24 out of 40 people found this review helpful.

I Know Why the Cage Bird Sings

The book, "I Know Why the Cage Bird Sings," is a book about this African American girl, Marguerite, who was perfectly fine one day, then the next, never speaks again. She finally speaks when Ms. Flowers helps her speak again; for the first time in almost a year. Somet...
The book, "I Know Why the Cage Bird Sings," is a book about this African American girl, Marguerite, who was perfectly fine one day, then the next, never speaks again. She finally speaks when Ms. Flowers helps her speak again; for the first time in almost a year. Something happen to that girl when she was at her rich grandmother's house, that changed her live forever; something happen, that made her never want to speak again, and Mrs. Flowers seems to be the only person that can help her.
Marguerite was a beautiful little girl. Her skin was as rich brown, she was very smart too. Her brother and her was both very close. They were like best friends. Her poor grandmother lived in Arkansas and her rich grandmother lived in Missouri. Margurerite would have to travel back and forth to see both. Her parents also lived in Missouri with her grandmother. Her mom seemed to always have a different man around, and her dad, well her dad was always working.
One day, when Marguerite and her brother was in Missouri visting her grandmother, one of her mom's "boyfriends" came home and was very "touchy" with her. She asked that man, "What do you think your doing?" He replied with, "Let's just play a game." She replied nervously, "I don't think I like this game." He forced her on the couch and sexually abused her. Her mom walks in and she pretends like nothing ever happened. Then when her family in Missouri finds out, they kill the man. Marguerite was so terrified. She blamed the murder on herself, saying that it's all her fault because she opened her mouth. So she said that she will never speak again, so nobody will ever get hurt again. She just wanted to go home to Arkansas.
Finally, when Marguerite and her brother arrived in Arkansas, nobody can seem to get her to speak. She refused. Wouldn't even speak a word in school. Ms. Flowers came in her grandmother, Mrs. Baxter's store and buys a few groceries. She asked if Marguerite and help her carry them home. Marguerite accepted. So they headed to Ms. Flowers house.
Ms. Flowers respected her. She read her a beautiful poem, made her cookies, and gave her some tea. Marguerite felt honored and cared for. She was so happy and delighted, that when Ms. Flowers asked her a question; just one question, Marguerite answered with, "Yes, mam." That was her first word since the accident. Her final words. She believed that Ms. Flowers alteast deserved that.

posted by 3411861 on April 22, 2010

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  • Posted February 22, 2009

    A Review of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

    Albert Ellis once said, "The art of love.is largely persistence" and in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by critically acclaimed Maya Angelou, persistence is exactly what young Maya intends to keep strong. The completely autobiographical memoir lures the reader in with its depiction of the lives of blacks in the Deep South during the Depression. Within the heart of rural Stamps, Arkansas little Maya and her brother Bailey are prisoners of the tight knit community and all that it brings. Along with their sacrilegious Grandmother, who is constantly in a fit in regards to any lack of obedience, Maya struggles to find her place. On the surface, she plays a character who genuinely enjoys living among her interesting quartet of a family, her Grandmother, her physically disabled Uncle Willie, and her true joy in life, Bailey are all she has in the world until her estranged father arrives to take Maya and Bailey to live with "Mother Dearest." The life of the big city entrances Maya and her imagination. While living with her mother, Maya receives an education, and meets all sorts of different people, one of those people being Mr. Freeman, Maya's mother's boyfriend. When Mr. Freeman takes advantage of eight year old Maya, it becomes clear that the children must be sent back home to their little town of Stamps.
    For the rest of Maya's time in Stamps, she encounters all sorts of different types of people; people who will make a great impact in due time, and those who simply play a role in every day fun. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings portrays a great tale of a young girl's battle to suppress the boredom of country life and strive for a greater meaning to her existence while also dealing with the inevitable battles of growing up.
    Maya Angelou's writing is flawless and each phrase is master crafted to perfection as she explores the truth of her childhood. "Looking through the years, I marvel that Saturday was my favorite day in the week. What pleasures could have been squeezed between the fanfolds of unending tasks? Children's talent to endure stems from their ignorance of alternatives." (113) The beauty of her words flow together in a magnificent mosaic of phrases and each step in this eloquent autobiography leaves a lingering sense of compassion in the reader's heart. The heart wrenching moments, though distressing, are overshadowed by the little joys Maya always seems to find. The way she confronts the temptations and urges throughout her teenage years are exposed in great detail as she takes little steps to achieve what she considers the "normality" of being a teenage girl.
    I truly enjoyed this radiant and joyful story with its realistic balance of pain and pleasure. The reader will be forever mindful of this little girl's journey into adulthood, the quest for love, and the long standing clash with society.

    47 out of 49 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 20, 2010

    Maya Angelou - need I say more

    Typically I read articles on individuals rather than autobiographies - they seem self promoting and long (to me). This reads more like fiction but gives you the idea of where one of America's finest writers was born from. I have always had high regard for Ms. Angelou. Not being an avid reader in the past, I have resolved myself to a New Years resolution to one book a month. She was January and a wonderful way to start.

    20 out of 22 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 29, 2012

    5 Stars

    Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is a memoir of the prejudice she faced growing up as a black girl in the South. She writes this “tale of classic proportions” to shine a light on the injustices she faces while growing up. Facing hardship after hardship, Maya is eventually able to conquer the plights in her life through the unorthodox method of maternity. Maya is able to achieve her ambitions by using the strength gained from her experiences. With a few hundred pages Maya makes the spiritual, emotional, and physical transition from a naïve young girl to a mature young woman. By sharing her experiences with the world, Maya shines a light on the injustices she faces growing up. The author uses her own thoughts and ideas to tell the story instead of relaying events. "If you ask a Negro where he's been, he'll tell you where he's going" (Chapter 25). She gives her take on the proceedings that are taking place around her. The outcome is a wonderfully written story from the innocent perspective of a child. Maya’s relationship with her brother often puzzled me. The most popular boy sticking up for his younger sister? To me that seemed like an illogical exception to a classic stereotype. However Maya’s entire life has been about defying the odds, so it only makes sense that her relationship with her brother would be too. I found the love and compassion shared between them was unequal to anything I had experienced before. They shared everything with each other, their secrets, feelings, and lives. I believe Maya’s brother was her rock that supported her through her life. His confidence in her allowed her to pursue the dreams she had never thought to accomplish. I was touched and inspired by the ending of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. With Maya entering motherhood, she is unsure of her abilities to care for her baby. She is afraid for the wellbeing of her child. Her mother’s confidence in her helps her to realize her abilities. "See, you don't have to think about doing the right thing. If you're for the right thing, then you do it without thinking." In my opinion this is a perfect way to conclude her story, Maya Angelou is a phenomenal writer who

    9 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 31, 2012

    Highly recommended

    I loved this book and the next three installments -- they are well written, honest, and strong. Ms. Angelou shows her great talent and her patience, persistence and strong determination to make something of her life - and in light of her childhood experiences - it is inspiring. I was not so enamored with Traveling Shoes - the story of her experiences in Africa. I felt that this last book lost the flavor of hope and inspiration and spent a great deal of time whining about lack of acceptance. To go to another country and expect that they are going to welcome you with open arms no matter what the circumstances is just plain unrealistic. Anyway - again I recommend the first four books highly and the last book not at all.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2012

    Wonderful.

    Worth th read. I love her books

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2013

    ¿I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings¿ is a coming of age story writ


    “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” is a coming of age story written by Maya Angelou. Heart-wrenching and powerful, Maya lends her readers a glimpse of her early years all the way up until she turns seventeen. Right from the start Maya presents a strong outlook on what life was like in South America for black people. The story starts when a 3-year old Maya is sent to live with her grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas. Her brother, Bailey, age 4, accompanies her. Later, they are sent to live with their mother in St. Louis, Missouri. While there, Maya is raped by her mother’s boyfriend, Mr. Freeman. Her mother and Bailey eventually find out and confront Mr. Freeman in court. Maya and Bailey eventually return to Stamps. When Maya is 13, she and her family move to Oakland, California. Then then move to San Francisco, California when Vivian, the person they now live with, marries Daddy Clidell. Maya decides to go live with her father for the summer and is abused by his girlfriend. She later runs away and starts living with a group of homeless teenagers in a junkyard. After a month, she returns to San Francisco. The book ends with her becoming a mother at age 17. 
    Some of the main themes of the book are racism, segregation, and acceptance. Time and time again, Maya and her family are constantly abused by the white people in the community for being black. One example of this is Maya being called by a different name when she goes to work for a white woman. By calling her a different name, the woman ignores Maya’s black heritage and identity. Eventually, Maya is fired for breaking some valuable china dishes and her employer starts calling her Maya again. 
    One thing that I really liked about this book is the title. The title really reflects on the content of the story and gives the reader an idea of what the book is about. The bird could be Maya or the whole black community. The cage could represent all the racism and unacceptance that the bird is trapped by. She knows why the caged bird sings because she is a caged bird. She is caged by her past and the segregation going on in the southern United States. 
    I think that this book is a must read for all Americans. This book really goes into a lot of detail on her struggling to find acceptance and recovering from her past and trying to make her own identity. Anyone who is currently struggling with issues such as these or has struggled with them should definitely read this. Another good book like this is “The Four Year Old Parent,” written by Shane Salter. That book is also about finding acceptance and identity. Overall, I give this book a 5/5. 

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 8, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Unforgettable Did I enjoy this book: In honor of the recently d

    Unforgettable

    Did I enjoy this book: In honor of the recently departed poet, artist, singer, activist, and beautiful soul, Maya Angelou, I’m offering this review of one of my all time favorite stories.




    I Know Why the Caged Bird sings is unforgettable. Angelou doesn’t just tell stories she changes lives. She touches souls. And she reshapes our nation for the better.




    In this book she deals with literacy, persistence, personal dignity, and success against impossible odds.




    I love how she tells a story of survival without anger, blame, or excuses. It’s hard to comprehend how she’s able to write with such honesty about topics that, when this book was released, were hardly spoken of in private much less public.




    "While I was writing the book, I stayed half drunk in the afternoon and cried all night.” Yet she kept writing. And readers of all generations are better off because she did. God bless you, Maya Angelou. Rest in peace.




    Would I recommend it: Absolutely.




    As reviewed by Belinda at Every Free Chance Book Reviews.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 22, 2013

    A Classic Read for All Ages

    I first read this book when I was a teen. Now MY teen is going to read it for school this year.

    Maya Angelou's literary voice, whether it be through prose, poetry, her acting, or her personal appearances has always resonated with me. I have nothing in common with her, yet I hear what she is saying and I get what she is saying.

    I have nothing but good things to say about this book. In the current social climate we live in, this book about being born a person of color in the South and then moving elsewhere where she grew into womanhood, has a strong, solid message.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 24, 2012

    OMG! 15000000 star rating

    In canterwood crest book 15 lauren is reading thus so i wanted to c if it was a real book and i read it is AMAZING!!!!!!!!! I absolutly LOVE this book so good

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2012

    A non-religious miracle

    I laughed, I cried, I moaned, I gasped over and over again. Having grown up during the civil rights movement, I knew some of the struggles that African-American women faced during the early 20th century, but I was absolutely shocked by the degradation, abuse, ignorance, and pain that Maya Angelou had to overcome in her teens. She tells the story beautifully, and she does overcome, but, from my point of view, her spiritual survival is nothing less than a miracle.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2012

    Awesome

    Her tribute to her life is amazing i love it

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2012

    Fantastic and inspiring read.

    I had this book on my reading list for several years. I wish I would have read it sooner. Beautifully written while providing a vivid historical account of an America we have left behind but will never forget.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 29, 2012

    Maya'a Trial and Triumph

    I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou is a touching story that reaches all ages. This story should be read because it stirs the hearts of those that have never been victims of struggle, and strengthens the hearts of those that have overcome lifelong battles of pain.

    I believe Maya’s life is a heartbreaking story with a message about conquering her weaknesses that ends in Maya finding strength and self confidence in herself. Everyone can learn from this message of hope. At times, this inspiring story brought tears to my eyes. Other times, it made me angry and unhappy. In every situation I’d feel what I think Maya wanted me to feel. This story is one that I’d read again if I’m ever feeling like I can’t take anymore of life’s challenges. I’d also suggest this story to any young adult coming of age, especially ones that enjoy inspiration and emotionally complicated stories.

    I think Maya’s purpose for writing this story is to encourage others to overcome themselves and their trials. You must read this story, not only for enjoyment, but hope and motivation. Read it so you can have a reason to not let challenges ruin you but make you better for experiencing them, just as Maya did.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 27, 2014

    Highly recommend

    A stunning read for all ages! Powerful writing.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 11, 2013

    GREAT BOOK.......

    VERY VERY GREAAT BOOK...........

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2012

    Love it!

    I highly reccomend this book to older readers, I say at least 15. There are parts in the book that I read and I was shocked. She is very descriptive and uses code words for words that would have been ofensive to some people to read. She uses words that only older readers would understand. She uses words like "pocketbook" and "his thing" to describe what's going on. If you don't have any idea what those words stand for, do NOT read this book! I love it but it is not for the faint of heart. :)

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2014

    Hello

    Any one waana cha

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  • Posted July 5, 2014

    Classic

    Well made for paperback. Excellent keepsake for a tribute to an author of Maya Angelou's status. Evry word a treasure.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2014

    Everyone should read this book

    Great piece of work. It was a classic when it came out many years ago. Still is.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2014

    A BOOK WORTH READING.

    I READ THIS BOOK OVER 20 YEARS AGO AND JUST BEFORE DR ANGELOU PASSED, I BECAME INTERESTED IN HER WORKS AGAIN. I STARTED WITH THIS SELECTION AND PLAN TO READ SEVERAL OTHER WORKS OF HER'S AGAIN. I INTEND TO RECOMMEND THESE READINGS TO MY GREAT NEICES AND NEPHEWS AND LET THEM EXPERIENCE TRUE WRITINGS FROM LIFE'S EXPERIENCES AND FROM THE HEART.

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